Hiking at its best isn't just about exercise and fresh air, it's also about escape — the feeling that you've left the city behind and have immersed yourself in the natural world. True escape is hard to come by in the Twin Cities metro, but no place comes closer than Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan. The park is huge: almost 2,000 acres, with 14 miles of heavily wooded trails wending around more than a dozen placid lakes and ponds. It's big enough to allow a genuine sense of isolation and wildness, and you could spend most of a day exploring the park without seeing it all. We recommend starting from the Holland Lake Trailhead on Cliff Road (less crowded than the Visitor Center Trailhead farther east) and making the loop to the charming footbridge at Bridge Pond, then to Portage Lake, and back. Lebanon Hills is just 20 minutes from either downtown, making it not just the best but the quickest escape in the Twin Cities.